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08.05.2007 General News

Minister sparks ethnic tension

By myjoyonline

The Independent newspaper said on Tuesday that it had learned of rising ethnic tension between major groups at Kpandai in the Northern Region over the construction of a Palace for the Konkombas by a Minister of State, Mr. Charles Bintim.

The paper said the tension in the cosmopolitan community has been rising since the Minister defied all advice, including one from the District Security Council (DISEC) not to build the palace.

“Last Thursday, to the open displeasure of the other ethnic groups, he inaugurated the palace for the Konkombas and now the volcano of tension is ready to explode.”

Kpandai is a heterogeneous community made up of the Nawuris, Basaris, Kotokolis, Ewes, Bators, Konkombas, Dangombas and a few other tribes.

Among these ethic groups, the Nawuris are terribly peeved by the actions of the Minister; and the reason is that, they are the indigenes and thus owners of the land, whilst the Konkombas, who now form the majority in the community, are settlers.

The Nawuris contend that, they do not understand why they, the indigenes, have been sidelined by the Minister, who happens to be a Konkomba, but does not hail from the area.

They are of the view that, the Minister, who is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Saboba, also in the Northern Region, should have rather directed the resources into constructing structures that will benefit the entire community, and not a palace for his tribesmen.

One high profile personality who is totally against the construction of the palace for only one ethnic group by a government official is the Paramount Chief of the Nawuri Traditional Area, (which encompasses Kpandai) Nana Abugabah I.

Speaking to The Independent in a worried tone, the chief said his subjects are very unhappy about Mr. Bintim's action and he has taken the trouble to calm them down.

He said, even though the Nawuris are the indigenes of the town, it appears government is always sidelining the people for the mere fact that they form the minority.

According to him, aside the palace issue, they have been sidelined in the area of official representation unlike the Konkombas, who have several government appointees.

According Nana Abugabah, even though Mr. Bintim recently apologised for his actions when he was confronted by the Nawuris, and has consequently promised to put up palaces for the other tribes, particularly the Nawuris, his actions were uncalled for.

“Can a Dagomba Minister of State go to Saboba to build a palace for the Dagomba chief in Saboba without first building for the Konkomba chief?" he fumed.

The chief further rejected the request by Mr. Bintim that, he was going to build palaces for the other tribes saying, "It is a lie, because they always promise us, but they don't honour their promises."

He advised Mr. Bintim and other government officials to desist from engaging themselves in tribal politics in the community, and to rather embark on policies and programmes that will foster unity.

In an interview with the paper, the NDC MP for Kpandai, Mr. Lakpalimor Kwajo Tawiah, also condemned the action by the Minister saying, "That will only bring unnecessary tension to the area."

The Kpandai MP, who is also a Konkomba indicated that, the Minister's actions stem from political considerations, since the Minister lashed at him (Tawiah) during the inauguration of the palace last Thursday.

According to him, the Minister is reported to have said at the inauguration that, he (NDC MP) is not a good MP, because he has not built any palace for them since he became the MP for the area.

Mr. Tawiah explained that, he was surprised when he heard those comments from the Minister, because as far as he is concerned, MPs do not build palaces.

He also expressed surprise that the Minister went ahead to inaugurate the palace even though the idea was suspended when he (Mr. Tawiah) tried to do it somewhere in March, this year.

According him, important persons such as the DCE and the Regional Security Council advised against the idea in view of its tribal undercurrents, but for reasons unknown to him the inauguration came off.

The Kpandai Wura, Nana Atorsah, who was described as a clan head by the Nawuri chief, also told this paper that, he is not too worried about the development since Mr. Bintim has apologised and promised to build palaces for the other tribes.

According to him, he is not worried, because Mr. Bintim built the palace on his own volition, and not on the orders of government or the MP for the area.

He admitted that, he did not understand the issues involved when he first heard the story, but later changed his mind when matters were explained to him.

Efforts to reach Mr. Charles Bintim, the Minister of State for his comments yesterday hit a snag as all his four mobile lines were switched off. Not even text messages we sent to him on the topic would elicit any response from him.

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